I felt like writing today, but not on anything that takes some brainpower…and by brainpower I mean remembering what I’ve written before to make sure I don’t have huge loopholes, plot holes, or continuity issues. So I took to the Internet, and I said “Internet, find me something to write!” Of course, the Internet did not reply, and I had to resort to using Google instead. Google is a bit more responsive, especially when you type something into the search box. I found some neat sites and bookmarked them, and I also found a tumblr called Writing Prompts that Don’t Suck that has over 500 prompts already listed, so I might spend the next few weeks (or months, there are over 500 of them) making my way through them and writing the ones that speak to me.
Writing Prompt #1: Person, Place and Thing
Write a story using these three things: a paper clip, a hospital, and an exotic dancer
The scene opens in the busy waiting room of a local emergency room. In the room are five people–a mother and daughter, a man in his 40s, an elderly couple, and an exotically dressed young woman. The daughter coughs constantly, the man in his 40s holds a blood soaked cloth around his left hand, the elderly couple seem to be waiting on someone who is already back in the depths of the emergency room, and the young woman stands impatiently at the check in desk, arguing with the triage nurse.
Nurse Janet (calmly, in a tone that suggests that she’s already said this particular sentence a million times that day): I’m sorry miss, you’ll still have to keep waiting. We take patients in order of seriousness. If you could have a seat, the doctor will call you when he’s ready for you. (Nurse Janet stands up and looks around the exotically dressed woman) Paul? Paul Stansford? The doctor will see you now.
(The man with the bloody cloth stands up and walks out of the room, passing a doctor in green scrubs. The doctor walks over to the elderly couple and sits down next to them, talking quietly)
Candi (talking loudly): Hey! I got here before that guy! That’s not fair!
Nurse Janet (slightly exasperated): Miss, if you could take your seat…
Candi: Fine! (she flounces off and sits down too closely to the elderly couple and the doctor talking to them. She looks around at the room, rolling her eyes and grunting)
(a few moments pass, and a nurse in white scrubs pokes her head out of a door next to the check in desk and looks down at a clipboard, then back out at the room)
Nurse Samantha: Candi? Candi Strype? The doctor will see you now, if you’ll follow me, please.
(Candi grunts and flings herself out of her chair and follows the nurse. The scene switches to a curtained off room. Candi has changed out of her clothing and is lounging somewhat seductively on the room’s bed in a standard issue hospital cot. The doctor enters the room, peering at the same clipboard that Nurse Samantha used. He looks up and takes a seat next to Candi’s bedside)
Doctor Tangler: Ms…Strype? I have a few questions for you before we start on the examination. First of all, are you on any medications?
Candi: As I told the woman at the desk, and the nurse who came in with me, no I’m not on any medications.
(Dr Tangler makes a note on the chart)
Dr Tangler: Okay, how many caffeinated beverages do you consume per day on average?
Candi (rolling her eyes): two cups of coffee in the morning, and either iced tea or a soda with meals, so, I guess…like I told the others…four. (Candi pauses and twirls a lock of her long hair around her finger) Tell me, doctor, what does any of this have to do with the fact that I came in here for a paperclip up my vagina?
Writing Prompt #2: Do What I Say!
Write about a door-to-door salesman who sells souls to demons in Hell
It’d been a rough day for Sam. He trudged to his car after a long day knocking on doors and heaved his case into the trunk. The car bounced slightly under the weight, and he slumped around to the driver’s side. He groaned–he’d parked too close to the lava flow again, and his door was melded shut again, scorch marks marring the paint. He kicked a tire and went to the passenger side, where he climbed over a week’s worth of lunchtime fast food wrappers, slid over the center console, then slumped behind the wheel. His shoulders sagged, and he listlessly tried to put the key into the ignition, failing several times before jamming the key home.
It sounded like a great opportunity, lots of money, good hours. The pros seemed to way outweigh the cons. The inventory was provided, commission was 75% of the sale, and the clientele…captive. Sure, he had to drive the Highway to Hell a few days a week, and park next to a river of molten lava, then deal with Chiron to cross said river, but in his first week alone he made almost $6,000 in commissions. Demons in Hell had paid well for fresh souls then. Within months, student loans were paid off, he and his wife both drove fancy new cars, and they bought an apartment in one of the most stylish neighborhoods in New York City. No more commuting in from New Jersey for Sam, he was a big shot now!
Business continued to boom for a while, and Sam and his family enjoyed the money he brought in. Sure, it did bother him a little that he was selling souls to demons, but being able to put away money for the kids’ college and retirement made it easy to stomach that. Soon, he was the longest tenured soul-seller in Hell. His co-workers didn’t last more than a few years, treating the job as a stepping stone to bigger and better (and less evil) jobs, but Sam enjoyed only working three days a week, four if it was the busy season between January and March.
Last year, though, Sam noticed that they were hiring fewer and fewer salesmen, but his workload didn’t increase any, instead, it seemed to taper off. He was still working three days a week, but instead of putting in the full eight hours, he was working half days instead. His case overflowed with souls, because new ones would come in, but there just seemed to be less and less demand for them. Nine out of ten doors he knocked on in Hell’s central office building turned him away, and the tenth wanted a discount. First, they had to turn in the cars and get more economical sedans with good gas mileage. Then they sold the fancy apartment and rented out a smaller place, forcing the two girls to share a room, something they protested about. His wife went to work, wiping snotty noses and changing dirty diapers at a tiny, dilapidated daycare on the ground floor of their new apartment building.
Today was the last day of his work week, and the first day in the history of his job that he’d failed to sell a single soul. He didn’t know how they were going to buy groceries this week and pay all of their bills. While they hadn’t spent the money as fast as Sam had made it, they also hadn’t saved much, and there was little left in their emergency savings account. He couldn’t put it off any longer–it was time to leave the soul business and find something new. A soul in his case wailed, as if in agreement, and Sam started the car. He was a good salesman, perhaps he could find something a little less…soul sucking in the telemarketing field.
Writing Prompt #4 Beginnings and Endings
Start with every morning she wrote down another reason not to nuke the planet, and end with she found that the green glass complimented her décor quite nicely.
Every morning, she wrote down another reason not to nuke the planet. This morning’s reason, #547, was “the soft feel of sleeping puppy fur”. She’d gotten a new puppy yesterday, and he was asleep on her lap as she wrote in her diary. Mostly, it consisted of reasons that she shouldn’t go out into her father’s shed and fire up the machine he’d spent his entire life working on, but died before he could use it. If used properly (and if it worked), it would exterminate everything with a certain genetic code, and her father had spent the last five years of his life sequencing and imputing DNA into his invention.
The next morning, reason #548 read “the way sunshine looks as it filters down through spring leaves on an oak tree”. She packed a picnic and took Tad, the puppy, with her and ate underneath the oak tree, which was located next to the shed her father’s invention rested in. She could almost feel it calling to her, and part of her longed to set the code to “human” and solve all of the world’s problems with the push of a button. In the news the night before, there had been news of a mass rape in India, the emergence of a new serial killer that targeted children in New York City, and a hostage situation that ended up with six dead, including the newborn daughter of the hostage taker.
Reason #549 involved a gift from her sister. The sister stopped by and dropped of a gorgeous piece of Depression glass she’d found at a local flea market. Pleased with the gift, she’d hugged her sister and placed the piece of glass on a shelf next to her TV. She found that the green glass complimented her décor quite nicely.